Alwar Lynching: How Rajasthan is Becoming the 'Hate Crime Capital of India'

Representative image (News18 Creatives)

Representative image (News18 Creatives)

Whether it is the ruthless hacking of a daily wage migrant labourer or the butchering of a meat seller on suspicion of selling cow meat, Rajasthan has been slowly treading on the path to being the hate crime capital of India.


Debayan Roy

Jaipur: Rajasthan perhaps is no more just the land of sun and sand. Marred by the recent incidents of lynching and cow vigilantism targeting minority communities, some fear it has now become the “hate crime capital” of India.

The Alwar lynching incident in which 28-year-old Rakbar Khan was killed came just a few months after the killing of Muhammad Afrazul in Rajsamand district.

Whether it is the ruthless hacking of a daily wage migrant labourer or the butchering of a meat seller on suspicion of selling cow meat, Rajasthan has been slowly treading on the path to being the hate crime capital of India.

The pattern of violence towards minorities, however, is not recent in Rajasthan and has spanned over several decades.

The Kumher massacre of 1992 remains etched in memories of those who witnessed the dreadful event unfold. It was Rajasthan’s first and worst Dalit carnage in which 15 people were killed in Bharatpur district. Then, in September 2010, Hindu activists, mainly from the Meena tribe, attacked Muslims and destroyed their properties. Almost 50 houses, standing crops, grain stores, farm equipment and cattle were looted, damaged and burnt. Muslims fled.

Later in Soorwal village, Sawaimadhopur district, a police circle inspector, Phool Mohammad, was burnt alive. Human rights organisations are still demanding an inquiry and suspension of police officers and the DM for dereliction of duty in the case. pieces together the most prominent attacks over minorities in the last two years. In all these cases, there have been no legal convictions till date.

Killing of Abdul Ghaffar Qureshi on May 30, 2015

Place: Birloka, Rajasthan

A resident of Birloka village in Rajasthan, about 350 km from Jaipur, Abdul Ghaffar Qureshi, owner of a meat shop was lynched by a mob of angry villagers who killed him, assuming that Qureshi might start selling beef soon.

On May 30, carcasses of about 200 cows were strewn across a field in Kumhari village which was rented by a contractor to the municipality to dispose cattle carcasses. This was said to be a routine exercise.

However, a message started circulating over WhatsApp and Facebook, fuelling rumours that Muslims had slaughtered 200 cows for a feast and since then anger started building up within the community members.

Soon, the mob attacked Qureshi. First they destroyed his shop, and then they killed him and ransacked his house.

Legal Status: The state and central governments had given Ghaffar’s family Rs 8 lakh as compensation. Three people arrested by the police are now in jail, whereas seven others who have to be arrested are absconding.

Killing of Pehlu Khan on April 1, 2017

Place: Alwar, Rajasthan

Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer, was accused of smuggling cattle and was lynched by a mob on the national highway in Rajasthan’s Alwar district.

Khan was a 55-year-old resident of Jaisinghpur village of Nuh district in Mewat. His family members had stated that he left his village to purchase cattle in order to increase milk produce for Ramadan.

Khan had tried to save himself by showing the mob his purchase receipts, but was lynched with rods and sticks.

Legal Status: Rajasthan Police CID found that none of the six accused were involved in the attack. In his dying declaration, Pehlu Khan had named Om Yadav, Hukum Chand Yadav, Sudhir Yadav, Jagmal Yadav, Naveen Sharma and Rahul Saini as his attackers.

The case will continue against nine other people identified from the viral video of the attack. Seven of them have been arrested and two are absconding.

Killing of Zafar Islam on June 16, 2017

Place: Pratapgarh, Rajasthan

Zafar Islam, a 55-year-old CPI (ML) activist, was lynched by local municipal officers when he tried to stop them from photographing women who were defecating in the open.

One of the accused is the town's civic body commissioner Ashok Jain.

The incident took place near Bagwasa Kachi Basti area where civic employees were photographing women who attending to the nature’s call in the open, apparently as part of the Swachh Bharat campaign to name and shame those who defecate in the open.

Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s remark where she called Khan’s demise “unfortunate”, hinting that it wasn’t murder, added to the outrage.

Legal Status: No arrests so far

Killing of Ahmad Khan in September, 2017

Place: Dantal Village, Rajasthan

A local priest accused folk singer Ahmad Khan of making mistakes while reciting hymns to evoke a Hindu goddess. Khan was a member of the Langa Manganiyar community which has been singing Hindu religious songs and spiritual verses in temples and at festivals for generations.

The village priest, Ramesh Suthar, accused the folk singer of “not singing well”. Accusations were also made that Khan’s songs were not able to “invoke the supernatural powers of healing”.

After the priest and his two brothers allegedly killed Khan, at least 200 Muslims fled the village and started living at a homeless shelter in Jaisalmer.

Legal Status: Police say Ramesh Suthar has been arrested, but his brothers are on the run

Killing of Ummar Muhammad on November 12, 2017

Place: Fahari, Rajasthan

Ummar Khan, a dairy farmer in Ghatmika, was taking cows in a pick-up truck to his village after purchasing them in Alwar. He was shot dead in Fahari and his dismembered body was found on the railway tracks near Govindgarh in Alwar district.

Ummar’s family had told News18 that he had borrowed money so he could buy cows to ensure enough milk for his eight children during the winter.

Two other people — Tahir and Javed — who were with Ummar when he was attacked managed to escape.

Legal Status: Two people Bhagwan Singh and Ram Singh have been arrested. Tahir and Javed were arrested on counter charges of being cow smugglers and are now being tried under the Rajasthan Bovine Act.

Killing of Talim Hussain on December 6, 2017

Place: Janta Colony Area, Alwar

Rajasthan Police gunned down an alleged cow smuggler on the outskirts of Alwar city when some men were spotted rounding up stray cattle and loading them in a pick-up van. The police claimed it was an encounter, but activists said they didn’t find any evidence of counter-firing by the alleged smugglers.

Members of the Meo Panchayat, too, questioned why no policeman was injured if there was an exchange of fire.

Legal Status: No criminal record was found against Talim. Police, however, maintained that no record or document of the cows’ purchase was found in the van. Talim’s family is yet to receive his body.

Killing of Muhammad Afrazul on December 7, 2017

Place: Rajsamand, Rajasthan

Muhammad Afrazul, a daily wager, was hacked to death and his body burned allegedly by a civil contractor named Shambulal whose communal rants against “love jihad” were recorded along with the horrific crime.

Afrazul’s partially burnt body was found near a road in Rajmasand district.

Afrazul’s widow Gulbahar Bibi, the mother of his three children, has called for “public hanging” of the accused. She also ruled out the ‘love jihad’ angle.

The family lives in West Bengal’s Malda districy and Afrazul had been working in Rajasthan as a labourer for 20 years.

Legal Status: Shambulal has been arrested and charged under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code. He is in police custody. The Rajasthan government has offered Rs 5 lakh compensation to Afrazul’s family, while the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal has offered Rs 3 lakh

Killing of Rakbar Khan on July 21, 2018

Place: Alwar, Rajasthan

Rakbar Khan (28) was lynched to death by suspected cow vigilantes in Rajasthan’s Alwar district. Three people have so far been arrested in the Alwar lynching. Khan, a resident of Mewat in Rajasthan, was transporting the animals to his village along with another man when they were stopped by a group of villagers near Lalawandi village in Alwar. When the cops reached the site, they found Khan lying in mud.

Legal Status: Rajasthan ADG Hemant Priyadarshi has now deputed DSP Jaipur range for investigating the case after allegations were made that Alwar police delayed in carrying Rakbar for medical treatment. The government has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the family.​

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